If there’s a phrase that best describes this year’s men’s semifinals crop, it’s that it’s a tale of two halves. Really, they couldn’t be any more different. On one side, you’ve got two major champions, known commodities on the tour even in their formative years always destined for greatness. Compare that to the other half – two players who, while not quite journeymen, have always been there to at best provide a test for the big names, at worst to make up the numbers. Yet, they all find themselves in the exact same spot – a stone’s throw from grand slam glory.
No, it’s not exactly the most glamorous of quartets – and certainly it’d be more pleasing to tournament organizers if both marquee names made the final – but it’s indicative of a simple rule that always applies at major tournaments: you’re only as good as you play for those two weeks. Just as Nadal and Del Potro earned their way here, so did Kevin Anderson and Pablo Carreno Busta – it’s not their fault 62 others couldn’t keep up.
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled a bit in this decade-plus of big-4 dominance that it’s been mostly the same guys turning-up each and every fortnight, but the long history of tennis shows that’s not always the case, and this just so happens to be one of those times. Certainly there’s plenty to enjoy here, as long as you enjoy what it is, and don’t rue what it isn’t.
Read on for a look at the 2017 US Open men’s semifinals.
All Matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium – 4:00pm start
Kevin Anderson (RSA)  vs Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 
It’s not exactly going out on a limb to suggest both these guys come into the semis with less hype than their cross-draw counterparts, but there’s room here for some serious spice. Anderson and Carreno Busta have played twice before – both wins for the former, the most recent being a 6-3, 7-6 affair in Montreal three weeks ago – so we know generally what to expect from them here, which is an interesting contrast in play styles that is likely to be decided by a handful of points. For Anderson, the objective will be to keep points short, use his dominant serve to race through service games and keep the pressure on Carreno Busta by belting the cover off anything even remotely hittable the Spaniard sends his way. For Carreno Busta, the objective is the exact opposite, looking to use Anderson’s pace against him to counter-punch and manoeuvre his 6’8 opponent side-to-side, building openings that he can capitalise on with his underrated ability to hit through the court. Still if there’s a favourite, it has to be Anderson and his outright lethality, but expect any victory to be exceptionally hard-fought.
Rafael Nadal (ESP)  vs Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) 
The dream continues for Juan Martin Del Potro, and now he gets a chance to repeat his improbable run from 2009 against the same man in the same round. Much has changed since then, but the general gist remains the same – Del Potro at his best is a match for anyone, and that’s largely been the case in this matchup, with Nadal leading the head-to-head 8-5, yet DelPo is riding a two-match winning streak. In any case, both players have reason for confidence – Nadal has only looked better as the tournament has gone on, and unlike Roger Federer will be able to frequently attack Del Potro’s backhand to open up the court, while the Argentine will get even more hittable balls than he did against Federer when Nadal’s higher-bouncing shots can’t avoid his forehand. Whoever wins is liable to do so by an incredibly slim margin, but Nadal’s relentlessness may prove the difference – regardless, it’s sure to be a fantastic demonstration of modern power tennis.